Beto O'Rourke, the Democrat challenging Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in this year's election, denounced Abbott's anti-transgender stances in a Tuesday appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers -- and talked about his Mother's Day visit with the family of a trans youth.
"Can you tell us what it is like for a family like that to basically be almost criminalized for being a loving parent?" Meyers asked, referring to Abbott's order that parents who allow their trans children access to gender-affirming care be investigated for child abuse. The order is currently blocked by a court while a lawsuit against it is heard.
"I've met families like the Briggles all over the state of Texas, and these parents are the most loving parents you'll find anywhere," said O'Rourke, who spent Mother's Day with Amber and Adam Briggle of Denton and their trans son, Max, and daughter, Lulu. "They're doing their best to help their kid navigate this incredibly difficult time in their lives, and they're searching for answers, just trying to make sure that they're OK."
"And our governor, Greg Abbott, is proposing charging them with child abuse," he continued. "And if that charge is sustained, not only taking their trans kid from them but every other child in the household, placing them in a foster care system in Texas that is the worst-run in the country, where 100 kids in that system died last year in the custody and the care of the state of Texas. Instead of fixing that system and the vulnerable kids that are in it, he's going to take those kids from their loving parents and put them there."
So on Mother's Day, he cooked dinner for the Briggles and dined with them to spotlight the family and show Texans what's at stake, he said. Six years ago, the Briggles had hosted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to show him what the family of a trans child is like, but Paxton didn't move from his anti-trans positions. He wrote the legal opinion on which Abbott's order was based.
"If the most powerful man in the state of Texas is saying they are child abusers or bad people, I found they are the exact opposite," O'Rourke told Texas TV station WFAA of the Mother's Day visit. "We need the people of Texas to support this family. Being here tonight and shining a light on their story helps them to live their best lives."
"We're not really used to politicians being nice to us," Amber Briggle told the station. She said the family had been investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. "These attacks, they're gonna keep happening unless someone stands up and stops them," she said.
The Briggles are strong supporters of O'Rourke in his run for governor. He is a former congressman who nearly beat incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in a run for U.S. Senate in 2018 and briefly sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
"Few people have as much at stake in his campaign as we do," Adam Briggle told WFAA. "It's as simple as if he wins, we get to keep our lives here."
Amber Briggle praised O'Rourke on Twitter.